Paris Saint-Germain have struggled to reach the lofty standards of seasons prior and Lille are ready to up the pressure on the stuttering Ligue 1 champions, with former youth-team player Sebastien Corchia plotting their downfall.
With a new coach and no Zlatan Ibrahimovic in 2016-17, four-time defending French champions PSG have looked a shadow of their former selves, already six points adrift of pace-setters Nice in Ligue 1.
Unai Emery’s PSG played out a disappointing goalless draw with Marseille in last week’s Le Classique, as pressure intensifies on the capital club after 10 rounds.
It does not get any easier for PSG with a trip to Lille on Friday, and while wary of the star-studded squad, in-form right-back Corchia – who spent two years as a youth player in Paris – wants to make life tough for the visitors.
“It is an extremely difficult game for us, because PSG are a fantastic team even if they have started this season a little less impressive than last season,” Corchia told Omnisport.
“They are still a true top team, but in our own stadium we want to give them a hard time and prove, that we are a good team as well. We prove that we are better than the league table shows right now.”
— LOSC (@losclive) October 24, 2016
Lille’s hosting of PSG at Stade Pierre-Mauroy comes at the perfect time for the home side.
After losing to Guingamp, Lille returned to winning ways with a confidence-boosting 2-1 triumph at home to Bastia, a victory inspired by Corchia’s stunning free-kick.
Corchia – one of the league’s most consistent performers this season – hopes last week’s win kick-starts his team, following six defeats in 10 matches.
“I was so happy to score and to help the team to win also in that way – as a goalscorer. Only three points counted against Bastia and it was the best feeling to work hard as a team and give a win to our supporters in our own stadium,” added the 25-year-old, who has scored league goals in each of his last five seasons as a right-back.
“Now we have extra energy to work hard and improve our performances. We know it will take a lot of work and some time before we are back where we want to be – in the other end of the table, where we showed we could be in the first half of 2016.”
Corchia’s exploits have not gone unnoticed both domestically and internationally in 2016.
Former club PSG have been linked with a move for Corchia, who was previously recommended by Thiago Silva, while the likes of Sevilla and Napoli are reportedly interested, but the ex-France Under-21 captain feels right at home in Lille.
“It has been an amazing 2016 for me. I feel now, that my combination of being 25 years and having the best years in my career still ahead of me but already with experience from more than 200 Ligue 1 games – is making me feel really calm, confident and comfortable on the pitch,” he said.
“When I heard the rumours about PSG, of course I noticed them. PSG is the biggest club in France and have great international ambitions, I am from Paris, and I used to play for PSG as a youth player. But it is not something that was a real issue to me, since I am happy in Lille.”
— Equipe de France (@equipedefrance) October 24, 2016
On the international front, Corchia has been called into Didier Deschamps’ France squad twice this season.
Selected in the original squad for September fixtures against Italy and Belarus, Corchia was then drafted in as a replacement for Bacary Sagna in this month’s World Cup qualifying showdown with Netherlands, albeit without making his debut.
And while he still awaits his first senior cap, Corchia is determined to make the right-back position his own on the road to Russia 2018.
“It has been a dream for me since I was playing for – and even captaining – the France Under-21, and it is such a huge honour for me to represent my country,” Corchia said. “I have been welcomed warmly into the squad so I have integrated easily. It is a super group of players with a great potential, and we all share the same goal: the World Cup 2018 in Russia.
“My ambition is to fight for the position of right-back for Les Bleus. I know it is difficult, and that the competition is great – but top football is exactly like that. As a person and player I love competition. Being a part of the Les Bleus squad is a great motivation for me in my daily work to always progress as a player and to do my best every time on the pitch.”